Your pick for Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...
December 30th, 2010
10:09 AM ET

Your pick for Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...

He's been called a criminal, a spy and a champion of the First Amendment. Some think he’s a villain. Some see him as a hero.

The only thing that’s beyond debate: Julian Assange has more intrigue than the pulp section of a bookstore.

WikiLeaks' mastermind, the guy who everyone loved to hate or loved to defend, got the most first-place votes (25%) on's “Most Intriguing Person” poll for 2010. Following Assange were:

2. President Barack Obama
3. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg
4. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs
5. Marisol Valles Garcia, a police chief in Mexico
6. Chilean miner Edison Pena
7. Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart
8. Tony Hayward, the former CEO of BP
9. Kim Jong Un, presumed future leader of North Korea
10. Antoine Dodson, whose thoughts about rape went viral on video

Maybe Assange’s victory is payback for Zuckerberg edging him out of Time's Person of the Year?

Let's recap why Assange was so captivating in ’10.

In July, the 39-year-old Australian with snow-white hair dominated headlines when the online organization he founded four years ago published a huge trove - 90,000 documents - of secret military documents about the Afghanistan war. Simultaneously, major news outlets The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel published the classified records and provided series of stories layered with context about the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history. The documents provided what is considered to be the first on-the-ground, unvarnished look at the Afghanistan war. Many said that the documents conveyed that the war was going much worse than the positive interpretation often heard in Washington.

Suddenly, Assange was everywhere, and so were questions. Who was this man, and how did he get this information? What is WikiLeaks?

Assange taunted his critics (mostly government officials) on Twitter and in interviews and defended the right to publish the information, arguing that the world should know. An American soldier, Pvt. Bradley Manning, sat in a military prison in Virginia, widely suspected of the leak. Manning seems to have garnered fewer headlines than Assange, though the soldier’s story and the characters involved have sparked passionate reaction. Assange has repeatedly said that he does not know whether Manning was indeed the source of secret documents.

And that was just this summer.

By the fall, Assange was uber-famous. He was elusive, telling journalists that he hopped around the globe trying to avoid the officials whose ire he'd mightily stoked by betraying their secrets. During an interview with CNN on the eve of another document dump - this time more than 400,000 classified documents about the Iraq war - Assange walked out. He was irate that a reporter would ask him about allegations that he'd committed a sex crime in Sweden.

That separate story concerning the Sweden case unfolded in intriguing ways and is still unspooling. It's playing out now, as is another massive development in the ongoing WikiLeaks saga.

Popularly known as CableGate, WikiLeaks has released what it says is the beginning of a collection of 250,000 diplomatic U.S. cables. Some cables seem to be merely titillating; others appear to be critically revealing. No matter what, the story is going to continue for a long while. Consider this: Less than 1 percent of that gigantic trove has been published so far.

In the wake of the cable releases, corporations and groups doing business with WikiLeaks stopped doing business with the group, and in response Anonymous avengers fought back. Meanwhile, Assange was arrested in relation to the Sweden case, chatter about a "poison pill" file that Assange established captured the public's imagination, and the debate over WikiLeaks raged on.

Bottom line: You know you're interesting when “Saturday Night Live” creates a recurring character based on you. And isn't it a clue that you're going to win Most Intriguing Person on when even your alleged years-old online love pursuits become a top headline? Read his old OKCupid profile.

There's undoubtedly more to come from Assange. He told Forbes magazine in a recent interview that he has insider documents from a major bank, revealing all kinds of corruption and misdeeds. Many have speculated that it's Bank of America.

The holidays proved no break in Assange coverage. News hit that he inked a book deal. He said the money would go to pay his legal fees.

The biggest question, the one that perhaps fascinates the most, is this: Will Assange be charged with espionage?

2011 might hold the answer.

soundoff (488 Responses)
  1. Renee

    who wants a blo j or a handy? I accept food stamps, get it while its hot!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John G

    hey! I was giving out hand jobs!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John G

    I'd expect nothing more from CNN though except maybe people here cloning others.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Renee

    too late! that's what you get for being gay. that and an eternity in hell.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Needin'

      Okay, Renee, I can certainly use what you're offering, though I am NOT gay. Offer still good?

      December 31, 2010 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  5. Renee

    Hi all, can all gay guys call me please?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Renee

    I'm desperate for a date tomorrow night guys.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Maureen Kimani

    I like this!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. barack obama

    who wants to smoke a blunt?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tangerine

    Defend Julian Assange. Find us on FB. We are called 3WC.

    December 31, 2010 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Oh look, JA has a personal army of 14-year old internet trolls from 4chan plus some obnoxious liberal tards like Michael Moore. No surprise there.

      December 31, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tangerine

    that's right, join our terrorist organization today!

    December 31, 2010 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. John G

    Wikileaks is a fantastic website and I wholly support their efforts in exposing the government criminals for what they are. The shroud of state violence is finally pulling back and people are able to see that the emperor not only doesn't have any clothes on... but that he is dead. Anyone calling for the death of Assange is could be found guilty of incitement if it actually happens.

    December 31, 2010 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      JA should die. Now blow me, John. 🙂

      December 31, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tangerine

    but remember, its a terrorist organization. so make sure you have permission from your mum.

    December 31, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. John G

    julian has fantastic hair. I want to bathe in it.

    December 31, 2010 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. phil

    @suebon...where did that come from? First off, people barely read what I post here, so what chance of them being interested in my personal life if it were made public? As far as friends and relatives "finding out about me" from a source like wikileaks, all they would find is what they already knew. And I wish everyone I ever spoke out against knew what I said about them "behind their backs" because some of them got away before I could give them an earful. Don't confuse me with governments. I am not ashamed of the mistakes I have made, nor do I hide behind a wall of secrecy. What on earth would cause you to believe otherwise? It must of been something I posted previously, because there's nothing in my above post that would merit this sort of response. (smile)

    December 31, 2010 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. David chikezie

    Hi must say cnn is the best on network news for sure en i want 2 say that the hammatan in the east side of nigeria is improving as the day goes am not say its a bad thing but am asking if it's because of the climate change

    December 31, 2010 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24